Bobby Bentley has coached offensive football for a long time. Ellis Johnson has coached defensive football for a long time.
So, when South Carolina’s current running backs coach was chatting with South Carolina’s former defensive coordinator, he decided to pick his brain some.
“I asked him, ‘What makes a good running back?’ ” Bentley said. “He said, ‘When guys make yards they’re not blocked for.’ ”
That’s how “bull yards” were born. That’s the term South Carolina’s running backs use to describe any yards they gain after they reasonably should have been tackled. Running over a defenders counts. Making him miss counts, too.
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“We take a lot of pride in it,” Gamecocks junior running back Rico Dowdle said. “There are a bunch of things that go into it.”
Last year’s goal for “bull yards” was 40 percent of the team’s total. Bentley has been so encouraged by his backs this fall that he’s raised the goal to 45 percent.
“We did OK last year, but I do feel like these past scrimmages and what we’ve been doing we’re going to be even better,” junior running back A.J. Turner said. “In the scrimmage, Ty’Son (Williams) had like 74 percent. I had 69. It was some ridiculous numbers, and it just gives me hope that we’re going to be able to do this thing this year.”
Williams had the highest percentage of “bull yards” a year ago, but Bentley expects all of backs to improve their numbers this year.
“I want the guys to start concentrating on bull yards, and we have,” he said. “They have really taken ownership of bull yards. They’ve really taken it personally.”